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4 Tips for Practicing Empathy When Working with Your Clients

In my time as CEO of Elevate Funding, my team and I have worked closely with more than 7,500 small businesses, each with their own unique needs and challenges. In addition to being accessible, reliable, and transparent, we have always placed a strong emphasis on being empathetic and compassionate with our client base, and the results speak for themselves – 98% of our clients say they can count on us to resolve their issues promptly and with care.

Here are my top four tips for practicing empathy when working with clients:

  1. Proactively think of what your clients may need or expect, then incorporate those solutions into your business model. Anticipate the next issue at hand and look down the road to see what other speed bumps may be coming. You know your client base better than anyone – so why are they using your product or service? What are their common pain points? How can you help them bridge their gaps? Ask yourself these questions, then incorporate proactive solutions into your processes and conversations. You want to be a resource to your clients, not just any other vendor. Think of their needs holistically and you’ll automatically be more in-tune with their emotions, fears, and expectations. For example, our team instated an add-on product, Flex Funds, to help mitigate the need for stacking (an industry-specific term describing the act of taking out multiple cash advances [or loans] within the same period of time, which overleverages the business – more info here). We also have a blog and newsletter nurture program designed to arm our clients with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.
  2. Avoid making hasty assumptions. Never assume the worst in your clients – always give them the benefit of the doubt. Trust that they will make the right choice, and if they don’t, empower them to rise to the occasion next time.
  3. Listen – truly listen. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Show sincere interest and concern, ask questions, and only offer suggestions or alternatives once you have fully heard your clients out. Our team is willing and happy to hear our clients out and offer tailored solutions to their problems, like payment holds/adjustments for clients that are having a hard time making their payments. Pro tip – keep a notepad handy and write down the pain points you’re hearing when speaking with clients. This practice will give you a roadmap for addressing and resolving common issues.
  4. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Have compassion. Recognize that other peoples’ feelings and fears are valid. As mentioned, our client base is comprised of small business owners, so we know how hard many of them were hit by the economic issues related to COVID-19. Many of our clients are still recovering from the events of last year while carrying the weight of their families and employees on their backs. We’re a small business, too, so we understand the challenges they’re facing and are eager to help however we can. During COVID-19, one of our NYC-based clients had to adjust his business model to delivery only. We lowered his holdback percentage from the contractual obligation, then once restrictions were lifted and he could return to normal operations, we slowly increased the holdback percentage back up to our contractual amount. Because we provided this option, our client was able to keep his doors open and make a full recovery.

Empathy is a soft skill, but it can be learned and practiced – and we promise that your clients need it just as much as your friends and family. If you have additional pointers on practicing empathy, please comment them below.

Heather Francis

Heather Francis

CEO, Elevate Funding